Moving towards spring in our kitchen garden

16 August 2011
I haven't written about our garden much lately but it's still here, happily bubbling away in the background, providing much of our fresh food. It's getting towards the end of winter here so we'll be planting a few more summer vegies now - increasing the number of potatoes, tomatoes, capsicums (peppers) and cucumbers.  We have a wonderful crop of Portuguese cabbage, grown for the first time this year from seeds sent to me by a permaculturalist in Melbourne. It's fast become my favourite cabbage. Hanno does a wonderful job in our garden. I love that he feeds the gardens so well between plantings and the quality of the food that comes out of that garden is a real credit to him and the work he puts into it.

These Pontiac potatoes were dug up last week.

The basket is usually filled with what we'll eat that day but I often grab the tomatoes to ripen indoors.

No matter what we do in the garden, the chooks are always watching, hoping for a bug to be thrown their way.

Two of our chickens died in the past week. They were old girls and we'll miss them. The rest of them - I think we have about six or seven chooks left - are keeping us in eggs, even though a couple of them are too old to lay regularly. Soon we'll start looking around for a few more ladies to join our family. After 30 years keeping chickens in the backyard, I can't imagine living without them now, and it would be impossible to live happily without good eggs. Whatever we give them - a safe home, good food, fresh water and love, they always give back more.

The empty spaces don't stay empty for long. To successfully plant for the table, you need to have seeds on the go most of the time, know how long they take to grow to maturity and keep on top of the bug population.

This garden has been weeded, raked over and had manure added. It's ready for planting.

Corn, Colossal tomatoes and lettuce.
Radishes, Welsh onions, kohl rabi, potatoes, Portuguese cabbage, tomatoes and silverbeet (chard).

The black kale plants (Cavolo nero) have grown really tall this year and as they've been harvested from below, they're started to look like palm trees.
The last of the turnips.
Bok choy, Daikon radishes and brussel sprouts.

It's always peaceful out there wandering down the green pathways between garden beds. Gardening, particularly vegetable and fruit gardening for the home is such a satisfying way to spend time. Plunging my hands into fertile soil connects me back to the natural world in a way nothing else can. We're lucky to have such a wonderful climate here and can produce food year round. It can be hard work, but as we get such wonderful harvests, we wouldn't have it any other way.

New lettuce beside lettuce waiting to be harvested. Such is the look of a productive garden.

Speaking of gardens, I received a gift from my editor at Penguin - Kitchen Gardens of Australia by Kate Herd gives a wonderful account of 18 local kitchen gardens, complete with garden plans, photos and the stories of the gardens and the people who work in them. It's interesting and inspiring and I can't wait to dive right into it. There are a number of people we Australians recognise - Jeremy Colby Williams' wonderful garden at his home, Bellis; the beautiful Gay Bilson's country kitchen garden as well as a self-sufficient garden on an historic Tasmania farm and a locavores' garden in the Red Centre, and much much more.  I'd been taking peaks into this book whenever I visited my local book shop, and I'm so pleased I now have a copy that I can relax with and read from cover to cover.


  1. How lucky you are to be able to do gardening all year! I am so jealous. Although I suppose I do enjoy the forced rest I get in our Michigan winters. It just makes the summer garden that much more important. This spring was very wet and cool and gardens were all way behind in starting.

  2. I smiled when I read Spring planting. Then I realized it is your Spring!

    We are gearing up for winter here and there you are. Love the internet and international blogging!

  3. I am especially envious of your Portuguese cabbage, if it's what I think it is! I haven't had a proper bowl of caldo verde since I was IN Portugal...and it's not for lack of trying.

  4. Oh Rhonda your garden is looking wonderful! Though we don't have a plan for a bed this year ( our first year here ) I think I will head out to the potting shed and plant a few seeds. Thanks for the Inspiration. :)

  5. Your garden looks wonderful Rhonda. Well done to Hanno and all his hard work. I looked up (and have reserved a copy) of that book from my local library. It must be a popular book as there is a long list of eager readers in front of me.

  6. Thanks for showing us your garden. So big ,my is a postage stamp size.Interesting book need to look into it.Think I will try growing potatoes again, yours look good.

  7. What a brilliant garden you have. I'd be a bit concerned a strong wind would blow the top of the black kale over and break it. It's always windy to some degree here and we've had to stake and wire tomatoes before so they didn't end up flat on the ground.
    Our hens are self replenishing at the moment as miss bantam cross hatched 12 chickens out of 18 eggs a couple of days ago. I must take a photo while they are still small and fluffy - if she doesn't try to peck me to death! The cats don't dare to look at the chicks because mum is such a ball of fire and very quick. I do hope there aren't too many roosters amongst this lot :(.

  8. I love looking at posts on your garden Rhonda, it is so inspiring! A real credit to Hanno and yourself for your hardwork to take a bare piece of earth and create nourishing, tasty and healthy produce. I cannot wait for our weather to warm into spring so I can start working on my summer planting, although in saying that, I have just had my first ever cauliflower head form :) I certainly will be referring back to your gardening posts along the way for inspiration :)

  9. What inspiration Rhonda, my veggie garden is the biggest project I've undertaken in my life. I have two large plots away from the house and a small herb patch right near my back door. I love opening the curtains each morning to see my little herbs standing tall and getting bigger each day. The other thing I love doing is reading your blog.

  10. It's looking good out there Rhonda. We were pleased to grow tomatoes here right up until a few weeks ago. Currently Tony is feeding the soil with plenty of compost, next weekend we'll start sowing seeds. It's an exciting time of year isn't it.

  11. Pictures of your garden are a refreshing change for me as our vegie patch has been almost dormant for the past six months. I'm even more motivated to get out there now. The book looks like a good one too.

  12. Your garden looks great! Ours is finishing up for the year. I only have a small one but I had enough to can so we'll be eating our harvest during the next year.

  13. I too am seething with jealousy at the thought of year round gardening. Although I fear I'd never get anything else done around here if I could be out playing in the garden year round!

  14. What a beautiful, productive garden you have. I'm sure your chooks love their surroundings and foraging around for bugs. You're right about keeping things constantly growing, that's what I love about gardens - they are always evolving.

  15. I love your garden photos. They are so inspirational.

    I have a great little sunny spot and try to garden there, but it is under pine trees :( Though I compost all veggie scraps, egg shells, etc., it is quite acidic. And whenever it's windy, the leaves are pelted with holes from the pine needles. Some things fail miserably, but have great sunchokes, oregano, and okra if you feed it weekly. Should try blueberries - they like acid.

    brenda from arkansas

  16. Hi Rhonda,

    I feel very relaxed after a walk through your garden! Indeed Hano does do a good job, I'm impressed. The health aspect of eating your own produce is incomparable. My jasmine has come out this week and that is the smell that lets me know spring is here. Love it.

  17. It is always fun to peak into your garden. It looks so happy and healthy. The towering kale is wonderful. Enjoy your day.EMily

  18. What a lovely garden & what a lovely gift you received. I have borrowed the Kitchen Garden book from the library & the gardens are very inspirational. There is a little old couple from WA in the book that have meat rabbits on their house block, as well as a great big polytunnel. I would love to see their garden - I am sure they could teach us all heaps. Have a great day.

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